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PreSonus Studio One Pro DAW


Anderton
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Anderton calls this a "full featured DAW".....I'm not sure which DAWs Craig has been using but S1 is a fresh new, but hardly "full featured" DAW.


No Quicktime support for scoring video (all other pro DAWS have this and have for many years)


No coherent way of modifying tempo or creating tempo maps to existing audio


No audio warp facilities


No way to use a buss as an input to an audio track (Cubase, PT, Logic, etc, etc).


Jonathan Hillman will certainly call this nitpicking, but as a working pro these are necessary for many of us, which is why the other DAWS all have them. They are not niche feature requests.


It can be argued that this is only a Version 1.0 and these features may (or may not) be added later, but the question is how a company could release a product into a market teeming with DAWs strong on features, and expect to compete in a meaningful way to anyone but advanced beginners.


TH

 

Not all DAWs provide identical functionality. If they did, we'd only need one DAW and then we could all go home.

 

The mastering options (which I haven't covered yet) aren't duplicated in other DAWs. And, you are wrong about warping. You can do manual time stretching by dragging a Clip edge, as you can with Sonar, Cubase, Pro Tools since version 7, etc. This is not only convenient, the audio quality is very good for reasonable stretches (for example you can't double the length and retain pitch without nasty artifacts, but in fairness, other DAWs can't either).

 

There are also three automatic stretching options that can be applied to audio files. One is not to follow tempo changes, so for example sound effects are not stretched regardless of tempo. Another is where the start positions are anchored, but the audio itself is not stretched. This recalls the way REX files work. The third is where files anchor the start points AND stretch to retain their relationship to the tempo, e.g., if they lasted 2 measures at 110 BPM, they last 2 measures at 125 BPM.

 

You're also misinformed about "no coherent way of modifying tempo." There's a dedicated Tempo Track, like other DAWs. For example, if I want to ramp up the tempo by a couple BPM before going into the solo then ritard coming out of the break, that's easy to do, especially because despite your assertion, you can have the audio follow along (see above). You can also insert time signature changes in a song, which is a feature some DAWs have a hard time handling. Studio One does not have Beat Detective-type function, but that's a relatively rare feature in DAW-land.

 

One area where you are correct is that there is no video support. However, when I want to do video, I don't use a DAW. I know of no DAW that handles video as elegantly as Sony Vegas, and it handles audio almost as well as audio-only DAWs. So despite being heavily involved in video production and editing, video in a DAW is something I use very, very rarely.

 

Studio One does true 64-bit end-to-end processing and is written with 64-bit systems in mind. The only other DAW I know of with this degree of precision is Sonar. You could argue that Pro Tools LE isn't a "full-featured DAW" because it doesn't do automatic delay compensation, faster than real-time bounces, and needs to store its fades in folders rather than calculating on the fly. I think Pro Tools users would regard these as limitations, not an indication that it's not a full-featured DAW.

 

I would also say Studio One's UI/workflow is extremely logical, and that matters a lot to some people.

 

Finally, to answer your question about what DAWs I've been using, what I use on a regular basis is:

 

Sonar 8.5

Pro Tools 8.1

Logic 9

Live 8

ACID 7

Cubase 5

 

All DAWs have unique features the others don't have, but that doesn't make one inherently inferior to superior to another. It mostly depends on your application. I have very specific reasons for using each of those DAWs, as certain ones are better for certain projects than others. Even though I'm still at the beginning of this review, I'm already starting to see the types of projects for which Studio One would be best-suited.

 

P.S. - I am curious why you feel feeding a bus into an input is a crucial feature, though. It's something I've never felt the need to do, so I might be missing out on something.

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By the way, I already alluded to the ease of stretching and looping in post #18:

While setting up loops so I could work with the effects, I found the whole process very intuitive. I was able to import the loop (drag-and-drop from the desktop, of course!), stretch it, loop it, and generally figure my way around without looking at the manual. So far, PreSonus's claims of user-friendliness seem well-founded.

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I know of no DAW that handles video as elegantly as Sony Vegas, and it handles audio almost as well as audio-only DAWs.

 

Sony Acid? :):thu: I agree. Vegas Pro is great... and Acid handles video better than any "audio daw" I've personally ever used. Same engine I suppose.

 

On with the review...

 

P.S. By "warping" I thought he meant "stretching a segment of an audio file without splitting it" like Cubase's audio warp or Logic's flex time.

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I need to RTFM. DAW has more features then I thought.



If everybody read the manual, I'd be out of a job. :)

But seriously...Studio One is quite ambitious for a 1.0, but the features that are there are very well realized. Seems like a really good foundation.

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Sony Acid?
:):thu:
I agree. Vegas Pro is great... and Acid handles video better than any "audio daw" I've personally ever used. Same engine I suppose.



You're right. I feel Sony's software is very much underrated, largely because it went into suspend mode when Sonic Foundry fell on hard times. Since Sony took over, the curve has been somewhat like Yamaha with Steinberg...nothing at first, then some relatively mild updates, then some really serious and major improvements. Sometimes I'm not sure the Sony parent company realizes what a great resource they have on their hands with the software division.

P.S. By "warping" I thought he meant "stretching a segment of an audio file without splitting it" like Cubase's audio warp or Logic's flex time.



I see what you mean, like where Ableton can place "warp markers" at different points in a file to conform them to an internal tempo map. Studio One does not do that; it's straight ahead time stretching - if your kick drum was a little behind the beat, it will be more behind the beat if stretched slower, and closer to the beat if stretched faster.

Sometimes it's a limitation that we don't have a "lanaguage police" to define these terms...

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If everybody read the manual, I'd be out of a job.
:)

But seriously...Studio One is quite ambitious for a 1.0, but the features that are there are very well realized. Seems like a really good foundation.



Here are the things that sold me on it.

Clean work flow
Good Intuative UI " a few things are hidden but hey its better then cubase"
Easy to use.
Light on the machine
True Multicore Support.
Trust I pushed the multicroe support just to see what would happen.

Not to mention others features you have already discussed. I was duely impressed and very happy.

Good Daw, I am seeing others saying the same thing.

1.0 version aside. It is a great program.

I hope they keep the low fat approach and keep the feature creep to a minimum.

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You're right. I feel Sony's software is very much underrated, largely because it went into suspend mode when Sonic Foundry fell on hard times. Since Sony took over, the curve has been somewhat like Yamaha with Steinberg...nothing at first, then some relatively mild updates, then some really serious and major improvements. Sometimes I'm not sure the Sony parent company realizes what a great resource they have on their hands with the software division.




I see what you mean, like where Ableton can place "warp markers" at different points in a file to conform them to an internal tempo map. Studio One does not do that; it's straight ahead time stretching - if your kick drum was a little behind the beat, it will be more behind
the beat if stretched slower, and closer to the beat if stretched faster.


Sometimes it's a limitation that we don't have a "lanaguage police" to define these terms...



Not really a feature many people need unless they don't know how to play. If thats really the case it is woodshed time anyways. Not time to make a record.

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Not really a feature many people need unless they don't know how to play.



While that's one application, it can be a life-saver for people who use loops. For example, suppose I have a fantastic drum loop with swing, and a great sound effects loop. I can warp the sound effects loop so the relevant points line up with swing.

This is particularly true with the loops I generate for loop libraries. I try to make my loops as clockwork 4/4 as possible to be as "universal" as possible, but in my own music, I use swing a lot. So, I end up taking the loops I've created, and applying swing to them with the warp markers. Granted, I would replay them with more of a swing feel, but particularly for soundtrack work it takes much less time to use loop markers.

But with respect to Studio One, it doesn't seem like a DJ/remix type program anyway...don't think that's the intended audience.

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Trust I pushed the multicroe support just to see what would happen.



Just curious...I haven't experienced one crash or "unexpected error"-type thing yet. Have you? Seems extremely stable, although I did get the update...maybe 1.0.0 had a few blemishes.

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Just curious...I haven't experienced one crash or "unexpected error"-type thing yet. Have you? Seems extremely stable, although I did get the update...maybe 1.0.0 had a few blemishes.



Not a single crash yet. I think I saw version 1.0.1 floating around in nafarious places and the comments were very positive.

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Not a single crash yet. I think I saw version 1.0.1 floating around in nafarious places and the comments were very positive.



Hey all,

Me neither. Been really stable so far. Only weird thing I've noticed is that Kontakt really seems to eat away at the cpu usage at much higher rates than other programs. For instance, I can have Kontakt running with the Boesendorfer module from Akoustik piano loaded and the CPU usage goes up to about 30% and flutters just above that. In other programs, the CPU meter doesn't budge above 10-15%.

I'm running an Intel Quad Core with 3 gig ram on Win XP, SP3.

Let me say that overall, it works well and in comparison, seems to handle the same amount of VI's that I would normally use in Cubase or Sonar. I've yet to max out a session, but in fairness, I haven't really pushed the envelope yet either. maybe this week I can do some experimenting...

Just weird that my task manager barely shows 10% usage but the CPU meter in S1P is much higher. Has anyone else noticed this?

Other than that, I have been really enjoying this program.

One question I have regarding the Mixer/Console:

Can someone clarify the use/advantage of the 'Post' effects insert section on the master output? I could not find any reference to it in the manual or online at presonus.

Thanks,

-Rich

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Hey all,


Me neither. Been really stable so far. Only weird thing I've noticed is that Kontakt really seems to eat away at the cpu usage at much higher rates than other programs. For instance, I can have Kontakt running with the Boesendorfer module from Akoustik piano loaded and the CPU usage goes up to about 30% and flutters just above that. In other programs, the CPU meter doesn't budge above 10-15%.


I'm running an Intel Quad Core with 3 gig ram on Win XP, SP3.


Let me say that overall, it works well and in comparison, seems to handle the same amount of VI's that I would normally use in Cubase or Sonar. I've yet to max out a session, but in fairness, I haven't really pushed the envelope yet either. maybe this week I can do some experimenting...


Just weird that my task manager barely shows 10% usage but the CPU meter in S1P is much higher. Has anyone else noticed this?


Other than that, I have been really enjoying this program.


One question I have regarding the Mixer/Console:


Can someone clarify the use/advantage of the 'Post' effects insert section on the master output? I could not find any reference to it in the manual or online at presonus.


Thanks,


-Rich



In the setup screen. How many cores do you have enabled ? Post master out would be mastering effects.

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In the setup screen. How many cores do you have enabled ? Post master out would be mastering effects.



Hey,

All 4 cores are checked off in the setup page.

I figured that the post was for mastering type effects...

I'm guessing that the 'insert' routes to 'post' then to output? Would love some more info/clarification how this is best used and what is the advantage over just loading the same effects in the 'insert' bin?

-Rich

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Hey,


All 4 cores are checked off in the setup page.


I figured that the post was for mastering type effects...


I'm guessing that the 'insert' routes to 'post' then to output? Would love some more info/clarification how this is best used and what is the advantage over just loading the same effects in the 'insert' bin?


-Rich



Inserts route to master. Post effects would go after the master fader and mix is rendered to stereo. Some people think master buss after sound different then post master buss effects. I have yet to hear a difference.

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Inserts route to master. Post effects would go after the master fader and mix is rendered to stereo. Some people think master buss after sound different then post master buss effects. I have yet to hear a difference.



I suspected it was something along those lines. I'm a bit surprised that there's no mention of it in the manual. (if I'm missing it somewhere, please let me know...)

So, if I render out a mix with an effect chain in the post section, I'm guessing the bounced file is mixed down to stereo and then the post effect chain is applied? I'm going down to do a few tests tonight...

-r

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I suspected it was something along those lines. I'm a bit surprised that there's no mention of it in the manual. (if I'm missing it somewhere, please let me know...)


So, if I render out a mix with an effect chain in the post section, I'm guessing the bounced file is mixed down to stereo and then the post effect chain is applied? I'm going down to do a few tests tonight...


-r



that would be my assumption. I have not tried it though.

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So, if I render out a mix with an effect chain in the post section, I'm guessing the bounced file is mixed down to stereo and then the post effect chain is applied? I'm going down to do a few tests tonight...


-r

 

Nope. Post fader effects are just that, insert effects applied after the fader point. When you render a mix they get rendered along with everything else at the same time. Your stereo mix happens *after* the master fader. Case in point, push your master fader/mix well above digital 0 and distort your converters intentionally ... now insert a post-fader plugin to attenuate the gain...

 

The mix will include that attenuation. The mix of the audio (in this case re: post fader inserts) e.g. what you hear and what gets rendered, the final summing, isn't complete until after the last post-fader plugin slot.

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Well, I'm back (and thanks to all for keeping the thread going while I was away). One of the few problems with Pro Reviews is that I'm a serial interface - when I'm doing NAMM videos 24/7, I can't give Pro Reviews the attention they deserve. But the NAMM videos are almost done, so it's back to checking out Studio One Pro. And of course, being a Pro Review, it almost doesn't matter if there's a gap; in fact sometimes it's an advantage, as more people have the program now, which encourages a dialog (hint, hint).

 

Anyway...I said that I wanted to emphasize what makes Studio One different, so now it's time to check into its mastering capabilities. (Don't worry, we'll get back to the DAW. But this seems like a great way to re-start the review.) Yes, mastering. Used to be you had to bring your files into Sound Forge, Wavelab, Audition, Peak, Quattro, Sequoia, or whatever digital audio editor turns you on in order to produce a finished product; while digital audio editors still offer some powerful and unique features, it's getting easier and easier to master within a DAW.

 

Studio One Pro isn't the first DAW to claim mastering capabilities; Magix Samplitude got into that concept very early on, with mastering-quality plug-ins, CD burning, and various mastering tools. And Cakewalk Sonar, while it's never really pushed the mastering aspects, has nonetheless added a roster of features that are very well-suited for mastering (including CD burning, and a publishing module). However, Studio One Pro has taken this concept further than anyone else. It's almost like having Sony's CD Architect (on steroids) built into the program, but the integration with the Studio One Pro DAW allows for tricks that, at least to my knowledge, no other program can do. As someone who does a lot of mastering, it's an understatement to say this piqued my curiosity :).

 

So, let's check out what this is all about. First, we'll cover Studio One Pro strictly as a mastering program for existing files, as that will make it easy to wrap our heads around what it offers. Then we'll look at the DAW/mastering integration, which is where it gets really interesting.

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When you open Studio One Pro, you have the option of creating a Song (your typical multitrack environment), a Project (where you do mastering), or opening an existing version of either. We'll create a new Project because, well, I need to! I review sample and sound libraries for EQ magazine, and often include a brief audio example that can be posted online so people can hear what I'm reviewing. I've wanted to consolidate these examples into a CD, both for listening, and to provide a backup of the mixed files. Sounds like a job for Studio One Pro.

When you open a new project, you see a screen like the first attached image (I had to reduce this somewhat to fit the size constraints for attachments, but you get the idea). You can see a timeline across the bottom for assembling the cuts you want to use, a spectrum analyzer in the upper right (thank you!) along with some other test options, a playlist (called the Track Column) toward the right, and a place for insert and/or master plug-ins in the middle.

Now let's start populating the Track Column with files. You can drag and drop WAV, AIF,or Ogg Vorbis files from the desktop; if you drag in an MP3 file, it will be converted to WAV. Or, you can toggle a browser by typing F5, which appears in the right side of the Project window (see the second attached image). The advantage of using the browser is that you can audition files directly from the browser, get information on the file (time, format, resolution, sample rate, etc.), and on playback, see the spectrum in the spectrum analyzer as well as see the meter and phase.

You can also add a song project from Studio One Pro; if there's no mixed version, you'll be asked if you want to create a mixdown of the song, using the current tracks and automation...more on this later, but this is what I mean about a master project reflecting the current status of a song.

Different sample rates? Different resolutions? No problem, they get converted on the way in to whatever sample rate you defined as the project's original defaults. Resolution stays as is until you "publish" (e.g., if you create a CD, the files are converted to 16-bit). Nice.

Playlist management in the Track Column is super-intuitive; you can drag entries around to change the order (which of course is reflected in the timeline), see the timing of individual entries, change the default Red Book pause of 2 seconds between cuts, and open up additional text fields for comments (i.e., meta-data). However, I don't know whether this meta-data creates true CD-Text, as I don't have a consumer CD player that reads CD-Text. Maybe Jonathan has an answer...

Anyway, those are the basics. Next, we'll delve into the available editing options, effects, "virtual test equipment" (spectrum analyzer, metering, and phase meter), and a few surprises - like the details on how Studio One Pro handles mixing/mastering integration.

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The meta-data will indeed be displayed on capable CD players, typically Artist and Title if I'm not mistaken. The first time I burned a CD from S1 Pro, I brought it into my Honda Civic...it was quite nice to have that info show up. I hadn't even filled it in manually...I had filled in the info on the Profile on the Start Page and forgot about it.

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When you drag in files, they alternate between two "lanes." This is what allows for precise positioning of start/end times and crossfading. Drag in several files simultaneously, and they alternate automatically (see the first attached image).

 

When you drag these in, you get the Red Book standard of two seconds between cuts. In this case, this is actually what I want but it's easy to modify. If you want a shorter space, you can grab a track and move it to the left to shorten the space compared to the previous track; the relationship with tracks to the right remains intact, i.e., they all shift by the same amount. Ditto if you open up more space. You can adjust the space until it "feels" right, or specify an exact amount of time in the track description in the track column. Either way, the two update each other - enter a different amount of time, and the tracks move; moving a track updates the time.

 

Crossfading is very easy to do. Referring to the second attached image, two tracks are being crossfaded. There are two points for the crossfade curve, the first being the end of a fade in (or start of a fadeout), and the second existing in the curve, which you can drag up or down to change the curve from linear to any kind of exponential shape. Even better, when it's time to create a crossfade, just select one of the tracks that should crossfade, and type "X." Voila: Instant equal power curve crossfade, with both tracks crossfading properly.

 

You can also adjust the level for particular tracks (as also shown in the second image), but here's a goodie: You're not limited to attenuating, you can also increase level (although of course, you'll get distortion if you kick it up too high. The waveform inside the representation of the track redraws to reflect the new level. This isn't something you haven't seen before if you're familiar with Sony's CD Architect, but it's a rarity in DAWs.

 

Now all your cuts are in order, have the proper spacing between them, have crossfading if needed, and are ready to go...almost. But what if one track sounds just a little bit dull compared to other ones? And what if you want to add an overall amount of compression or level maximization? Well, keep reading...

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Again, this is pretty simple and intuitive. Inserts are available for each track in the track column, so if you want to add EQ to one cut and compression to another, no problem. It doesn't seem like there's a limit to how many effects you can insert for a single cut (there probably is a limit, but the number of effects would likely exceed the bounds of good taste).

 

Similarly, there's a Master insert section, where you can insert a limiter and squash the living crap out of everything so you can win the loudness wars. Or on second thought, maybe add just a couple dB of limiting to make things jump out a little more.

 

As I was fooling around with the effects, I again remembered that only one effect is visible at a time. I emphasize this because I'm used to opening as many effect GUIs as I want, but with the drawback that the screen gets cluttered awfully fast. But, having the thumbnail "micro views" for effects (see the attached image for an idea of what the Project screen looks like with effects inserted) helps compensate for not seeing multiple GUIs at once. I haven't decided yet whether the one-effect-visible-at-a-time thing is a limitation or a feature; it's a different way of working, and I haven't gotten used to it quite yet. Nonetheless, it does keep screen clutter down, which is a big plus.

 

The Master section has several presets, but only three for mastering. So, I came up with a couple points of departure of my own. Paging Jonathan - I can't figure out how to export preset chains; if there's a way, let me know and I'll post the presets here for the benefit of other Studio One owners.

 

Incidentally, the process of inserting effects is where I encountered my very first freeze: Dragging the VST3 version of iZotope Alloy into a track insert would freeze Studio One. This didn't happen with the VST2 version of Alloy, nor with VST3 effects from other companies, so it seems unlikely to be a Studio One issue. Maybe Jonathan knows something about this, or it's a known issue.

 

It’s time to sign off, but it’s worth mentioning that so far, “mastering” has dealt more with the assembly process of mastering than nitty-gritty mastering details like drawing out clicks with a pencil, applying noise reduction, finding peaks, normalizing individual half-cycles, and the like. So far, it doesn’t seem like Studio One is cut out for this type of thing…so don’t throw away your copy of Peak/Sound Forge/Wavelab/Audition/DSP Quattro etc. just yet.

 

This isn’t surprising given that Studio One is aimed more at musicians than hardcore mastering engineers, but I mention it for the sake of any hardcore mastering engineers in the crowd.

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